As part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the U.N. General Assembly has set forth the 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to address poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water, clean energy, economic growth, industry, inequality, cities, production, climate change, oceans, land, justice and partnerships.
It’s estimated that achieving the SDGs would require $2–3 trillion per year for the next 15 years. Ironically, the global cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion, or 5% of the global GDP. The World Bank estimates $1 trillion in bribes every year. Those annual figures closely match the capital needed to achieve the SDGs.
An important assumption in these figures is the initial and ongoing cost structure to implement large-scale infrastructure, energy, housing and other capital projects spearheaded by the likes of UNOPS and the World Bank. The utilization of outdated technologies results in new development quickly deteriorating to housing slums and health clinics that exceed capacity upon opening. The World Bank recognizes that they need to incorporate commercialization-ready exponential technologies to drive down the CapEx and OpEx while increasing efficiency, resiliency, sustainability and capabilities. For instance, AI algorithms on smartphone apps may soon be able to accurately detect skin cancer without the need for villagers to travel to a health clinic or to crowd a clinic facility. Innovation isn’t limited to physical infrastructure or material science.
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